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Questions for Business Building

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

When I first heard this question my reflex response from 30 years experience of running a business was… When will I get my investment back, what is the percentage return on investment and what is the risk?!

My more considered response is to ask three initial questions. There are obviously many other issues but these are those I consider the most significant:

First Question – What is the purpose of this business and what is my real motivation for taking on this opportunity to build a business?

I would ask myself, what am I really focused on – my vision, mission and strategy to bless the nations. I would consider the eternal rather than short-term goals for the business and would seek to discover how the business could sustain itself having once outgrown me and my start up team. Read more

Considering the Business Opportunity

What are the most important questions to ask myself when evaluating a business opportunity?

Probably the most important aspect of pursuing a business opportunity is to first determine whether you are the right person for the job. I would recommend you do a personal assessment (be honest with yourself, there’s a lot at stake here), and ask yourself if you have the skills and passions necessary to build this specific type of business. Beyond that, do you have what it takes to live through the highs and eventual lows that you know will occur through the normal course of operations? Evaluating your readiness, and determining if your unique skill set maps to those required by the business should be at the top of your checklist, as you prayerfully and thoughtfully determine the worthiness of the project ahead of you.

As a potential entrepreneur, it is easy to get excited about any new business opportunity. So much in fact, that an entrepreneur can quickly lose his objectivity and become blinded to the potential pitfalls associated with the business. Many of us foolishly consider that if an opportunity exists, it must be the open door God wants us to walk through. Keep in mind that just because a door is open, doesn’t mean its the right door for you. While venturing into any new business can be daunting and filled with uncertainty, it can also be a time of exhilaration, not to mention a lot of fun. But do yourself a favor before you journey into the unknown; check your motivations. Know why you are doing this, and know the risks before you take the jump. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Meet the Mentors

We are excited to introduce a new regular blog feature for ‘The BAM Review’: Ask a BAM Mentor.

Ask a BAM Mentor will be an opportunity for readers to ask practical business questions to experienced business as mission leaders, business owners and consultants. Every two weeks we will post a new question and hear responses from our panel of mentors. Submit a Question

Meet the Mentors:

Christa Foster Crawford 
Christa has worked to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion since 2001. In 2003 she started a social enterprise for freedom, pioneering small Food and Beverage/Hospitality businesses to offer sustainable alternatives to exploitation. She currently empowers the work of other organizations through the Trafficking Resource Connection, providing expert advice and referrals, resource development and sharing, and teaching and training. A passionate advocate, Christa speaks, writes and teaches internationally on issues of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, and children at risk. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Claremont McKenna College.

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Assessing the Viability of a Great Commission Company

by Steve Rundle and Tom Steffen

The following are just a few of the questions that should be asked when assessing the viability of a Great Commission Company (GCC).

Economic Viability
  1. Is there a clear statement of the purpose and goals for the company?
  2. Does the management team have the appropriate experience and training?
  3. Can the business create and maintain a competitive advantage?
  4. From a financial perspective, is the business an attractive investment?
  5. Is there a clear path from start-up to financial sustainability?
  6. Are there investors and other advisers committed to helping the company reach financial sustainability?
  7. Is this a business concept that has worked in other contexts?
  8. What are the risks?
  9. Is the business model flexible enough to allow for expansion, changes in direction or alliances with other companies?
  10. How will the net earnings be distributed?
  11. How and when can the investors expect to be repaid?

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Franchising and Business as Mission: Expert Panel

We asked a panel of three experts with firsthand experience to give us their perspective on business as mission and franchising. Read panel bios below.

1. What are some of the opportunities you see in using a franchising approach in a business as mission context?

John: Franchising thrives by tapping into local knowledge and connections, combining them with the franchise operations system to achieve success.  Compared to setting up a wholly-owned business, franchising offers a faster rate of expansion, with a lower business risk, whilst maintaining a good amount of control from the franchisor’s (the brand/concept owner’s) point of view.

As a ‘BAM’ tool, franchising taps the knowledge and connections of the locals in the field.  This means the ‘locals’ can be blessed by being gainfully employed, whether self-employed or company employed, and earning a livelihood from the labour of their hands.  A franchise that does not require a large amount of capital investment, or does not have a complex and huge scale of operation, can be easily replicated across the mission field, penetrating even small towns or large villages.  Where the franchisee is a believer, the business can be used as forum for discipling that goes beyond preaching and teaching, but into modeling a transformed lifestyle in the workplace.  I can visualise food businesses such as kiosks or small stores and small retail outlets as possible franchise concepts in a BAM context.

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Servant Leadership in the Marketplace

by Peter Shaukat

Christians are called by God to bring servant leadership in the marketplace.  There is critical need for servant leadership in the world today and this is especially true of the marketplace where so much of the world’s agenda and the pace for development is set. The marketplace can and should be a primary context for God’s redemptive action.

Although this need to bring servant leadership is not confined to those called to business as mission, it is vital for BAMers to get to grips with our leadership role in the marketplace.

Psalm 78 verse 70 tells us that God chose David to be his servant leader, taking him from tending to sheep to being a shepherd for His people Israel. Verse 72 describes David’s leadership: ‘David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them’. Servant leaders must conduct themselves with integrity, and they must also be competent.

This represents two spheres for servant leadership in a business context: our moral leadership and our operational leadership. Read more

Interview with BAM Author Neal Johnson

Neal — you have done all sorts of things in your life, including banking, business, diplomacy and practicing law internationally and in the US, but now you are an academic — what motivates you?

Clearly the thing that motivates me now and has for the past 20 years is my passion for Christ in the marketplace, especially business as mission.  Looking back on my earlier life, I would have given anything if someone had taken me aside and said ‘Neal, have you heard about business as mission? Do you know you can do both business and mission—you don’t have to choose between them—that God is actually calling you to do both?’  So many people of my generation didn’t find that out until they were already well into their careers or toward the end of them.

I have a passion for working with business students now because of the students who say ‘I love business, I love mission, but can I do both?’  I really want them to be able to understand at the start of their career that they can in fact do both and also to show them how they can do that.

Your book “Business as Mission” is a unique BAM book, what made you feel this particular book was needed?

There are a lot of great books on business as mission and many more on faith at work. They are excellent books, but there are not many that really address ‘how to do it’.  As I have presented the concept of business as mission at conferences, people get excited and ask ‘What do I do now? I love the concept, I want to do it, but how do I do it?’ This book attempts to address that. Read more